BMW’s LifeDrive platform is the genius behind the i8. It combines a passenger cell and doors made of resin-injected carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) with front and rear subframes and crash structures in aluminium to create a super-lightweight body. The CFRP tub is 50 per cent lighter than if it had been made of steel and 30 per cent lighter than had it been aluminium.
Inside hides the normally punitive mass of a combustion engine, an electric motor and a lithium ion battery pack, but the overall weight is 1560kg as claimed, or 1575kg on our scales – which is quite something. The last Porsche 911 we weighed – a Targa 4S – was also 1575kg, while a V6 Jaguar F-type tops 1700kg.
Power comes primarily from a reworked version of the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol triple you’ll find in a Mini Cooper.
Here, though, special internals and new induction technology conjure 228bhp and 236lb ft from that modest swept volume. The engine drives not only the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission but also a high-output starter-generator electric motor, which shuffles power back into the 7.1kWh lithium ion battery under the cabin floor.